Sex, Power, and Aphrodite
“Don’t we go to plays for passions we don’t get in life?” When this particular question is posed in the middle of Venus in Fur, it is pretty difficult for the audience to oppose such a sentiment. Feisty and sexy, Venus in Fur is the hottest show on Broadway – literally.
We meet Thomas (Hugh Dancy). He is fed up with the unoriginal and unprofessional actresses who have been auditioning for the lead role in his new play based off of the classic novel of the same name. As he is about to leave for the day, Vanda (Nina Arianda) storms into the room and begins to turn Thomas’ life upside down. Boisterous yet naive, Vanda is surprisingly good as she begins the audition she has coerced Thomas into letting her have. Truly a show within a show, scenes from Thomas’ play seamlessly dive in and out of sequences featuring the playwright and the actress discuss, argue, and flirt while both attempt to gain the upper hand.
Hugh Dancy is marvelous as the pretentious playwright, but Nina Arianda absolutely shines. She slips in and out of Vanda, the actress, and Vanda, the character within Thomas’ play, with commendable ease. Dancy and Arianda play well off of one another and share an intense chemistry. They exuded a great deal of sexual tension through every word and and body movement.
David Ives’ brilliant script deserves a great deal of attention for generating the majority of the play’s heat. Not only is the dialogue witty and quick, but the topics of their heated arguments are exhilarating. Since it is a show about power and sex, Vanda and Thomas disagree over the motivations of their characters, gender roles, and even their personal lives. Embedded in their conversation is genuine comedy; the playwright takes the audience on an incredible roller-coaster of humor, desire, and power.
Venus in Fur is a truly remarkable piece of theater. The actors are enthralling, and the show is filled with shocking turns and revelations. Blurring the lines between what is real and what feels realistic, the play builds up the energy and tension until the end arrives and does nothing less than blow your mind.